In the Running: Godrej’s Propane-Based AC System Competes for the Global Cooling Prize

Kamal Nandi of Godrej, a finalist for the Global Cooling Prize, talks about the company’s entry, a propane-based AC system.

Kamal Nandi, Godrej

The Global Cooling Prize was launched in November 2018 with the aim of spurring the development of a radically more efficient, climate-friendly residential cooling solution, with the potential for five-times less climate impact than a baseline unit.

Last November 15, the prize administrators – a global coalition led by the Government of India and Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) – announced, the eight finalists in New Delhi, India.  (See “Finalists  in Global Prize Incorporate NatRefs,” Accelerate Magazine, January 2020.) The finalists have been awarded US$200,000 each to develop and ship their prototypes to India for testing in the summer of 2020. The winner of the Global Cooling Prize will be announced in December of 2020 and awarded more than US$1 million.

One of the eight finalists is Godrej and Boyce Mfg. Co. Ltd., one of India’s largest AC producers (with A.T.E. Enterprises Private Limited). In the following interview, Kamal Nandi, Business Head and Executive Vice President – Godrej Appliances, talks about the air conditioning technology Godrej has developed for the prize competition.

Accelerate Magazine: What can you tell us about your prize entry and why it is revolutionary?

Kamal Nandi: With green at its heart, Godrej Appliances has put forth the concept of leveraging evaporative cooling along with a natural low-GWP refrigerant (propane/R290) to deliver powerful cooling, but with 5 times less climate impact. The design employs a highly optimized vapor compression cooling system integrated with advanced evaporative cooling technology to reduce energy consumption. Small solar PV incorporated in the design will be instrumental in reducing power consumption from the grid, with intelligent integra- tion accomplished through smart control systems. This revolutionary technology will go a long way in making air conditioners affordable to the masses without putting high stress on the environment.

Accelerate Magazine: Why is it important for Godrej to look into sustainable solutions such as this?

Kamal Nandi: A key driver for electricity demand globally is the ever-increasing use of air conditioners in homes and offices. India is not untouched by this phenomenon. According to the Indo-German Energy Forum 2018 report, by 2027 India’s cooling energy demand is expected to increase by 2.2 times. With growing disposable income, a rising middle class and urbanization, the number of room air condi- tioners in use in India is projected to be a whopping 1 billion by 2050. The growing use of air conditioners is amplifying the “urban heat island” effect, making cities warmer. It is also known that air conditioners are power guzzlers and an increase in demand for air conditioners will, in turn, put upward pressure on energy generation, leading to higher emissions.

The emissions report by UNEP (the United Nations Environment Program) confirms that global GHG emissions for the year 2018 stood at 55.3gt of CO2e. And if the emissions continue at this rate, the average temperature in India will shoot up from about 24°C (75°F) to about 28°C (82°F) by 2100, as said in research by the Climate Impact Lab. This will further stress the urgency for a more efficient cooling efficiency for all, without warming the planet.

“The environment” has been a cherished brand value at Godrej always. Continuous innovation on the green technology front, therefore, has been a business imperative for us. Despite being on this journey, we recognize that a lot more is needed if we are to make a significant dent and curb the climate threat faced around the world. To meet this end, we have been constantly increasing our spend in R&D, and, with new product offerings every year, we still hold the baton of bringing to our consumers India’s most energy-efficient products.

Accelerate Magazine: How do you feel about being a finalist for the Cooling Prize?

Kamal Nandi: We are delighted that Godrej Appliances is one of the eight finalists across the globe and among 139 applicants for the Global Cooling Prize. “Environmental friendliness” for us is a value that has been ingrained in our corporate DNA since our inception. Godrej Appliances are not the greenest only in terms of usage of an environmentally friendly refrigerant, but also because of the high levels of energy efficiency in our products. Being selected as a finalist is a matter of pride for us, as it helps us place Indian technology prowess on the world map. 

Accelerate Magazine: What is the potential of this technology?

Kamal Nandi:Developed by our in-house R&D team, this innovative evaporative cooling based, ener- gy-efficient and sustainable technology employing low-GWP refrigerant – our latest design concept – explores the possibility of an 80% decrease in energy consumption for air conditioners. Potentially, this breakthrough technology can make comfort cooling available to the masses since it would be affordable in terms of operating costs.

Accelerate Magazine: What is the long-term vision of the company with regards to climate-friendly HVAC solutions?

Kamal Nandi: We have been treading the green path for our cooling products for a long time, much before it became fashionable to talk sustainability. And we continue to ensure all our manufactured refrigerators are 100% green. Living up to our commitment to green, we have worked towards building energy-efficient benchmarks in our appliances.

The latest series of Godrej air conditioners use only R290 or R32 refrigerant. Both refrigerants have zero ozone depletion potential (ODP), causing no harm to the Earth’s ozone layer, thereby protecting the Earth and its atmosphere from harmful ultraviolet radia- tions from the sun.

The brand’s vision is to be at the forefront of developing and deploying environmentally friendly technologies relevant to consumers while preserving the planet – one appliance at a time.

This article originally appeared in the April/May issue of Accelerate Magazine.

By Ilana Koegelenberg (@Ilana_Ed)

Apr 16, 2020, 12:07




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